By Kristofer Poland
Just when I start thinking rock and roll might be dead once again, I end up going to a show that reminds me the good a distorted guitar riff can do for my mood and mental health alike. Tuesday, October 15th at Kobo in Columbus, Ohio was the setting for one such show. The names on the marquee: Pampers, Purling Hiss, and The Men.
Before we get to that, I want to quickly mention an early highlight of the evening. Our first stop in Columbus was Pierogi Mountain (located in Cafe Bourbon Street, 2216 Summit St.) where pierogi master Matt Majesky presented us with a pie-themed menu. Chicken pot pie, shepherd’s pie, and deep fried pumpkin pie pierogi were all deliciously filling. It was a great way to carb up before what was sure to be an energetic show.
First up on the bill was Pampers. I spent much of the night discussing the merits of such a name with friends, as we were split over whether it’s terrific or terrible. I fall squarely into the terrific camp. Nothing screams a carefree rock and roll attitude like the image of a shit-filled diaper. I imagine it steaming in the middle of a busy city street on a sweltering afternoon. Maybe that wasn’t even the band’s intent. Maybe they meant to conjure images of spoiling another with luxuries. I don’t know. Nevertheless, a better band couldn’t have opened this show. Violent thrashing power chords and manically screamed lyrics set a perfect tone for the rest of the evening. They even threw in a little bit of the best keyboard ever, Casio’s SK-1, just for a touch of the human voice effect. Simply genius. Hello-hello-hello…
Next up came Purling Hiss, a power trio with a larger-than-life sound. While Pampers were all about the riff, Purling Hiss gave us a heavy dose of guitar solos. I’m talking face-melting, heart-stopping, butthole-tightening solos. What really blew me away about Mike Polizze’s playing was how it seemed to simultaneously embody reckless insanity and incredible control. The dude never hit a sour note while flailing around wailing out wah-wah madness. It’s not as if we just heard guitar solos in a vacuum though. Far from it, as the drummer and bass player laid down grooves as tightly as ever. If psychedelic rock without any pretentiousness is your bag, pick up their recent release Water on Mars. It doesn’t disappoint.
Finally, The Men crowded onto Kobo’s small stage before a house full of excited fans. Their sound has evolved quite a bit since they first left home a few short years ago; but those expecting a lighter, more melodic, countryfied sound were in for quite a surprise. Their performance was loud and raucous and bristling with energy. Don’t get me wrong. They played some of those tunes, like Open Your Heart’s “Candy” and New Moon’s “Half Angel Half Light.” However, they played them in the fast and furious style of some of their wilder tracks. It was punk rock all the way. No frills. No encore. No bullshit. Just great rock and roll presented with genuine passion. I can’t suggest strongly enough catching them during this tour. They’re playing (at least that fateful night in Ohio) like a band possessed.
I went to Kobo solely to see The Men, and they were as amazing as I’d hoped. I feel pretty lucky that Pampers and Purling Hiss joined them on this tour, as the bill simply could not have been better. It was a good night of great music. And it was over by 11:30, so lame bastards like me could make the long drive home and enjoy a full night’s sleep. Rock and roll is indeed alive in the bars and garages right around the corner from where you live. All you have to do to find it is clean out your ears and follow the sounds that rattle your ribcage.